Lost and found
Published on Page A11 of the November 9, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
I MET a good man today.
It looked like the beginning of another busy day. I was on my way to work in the Makati business district in a Tamaraw FX taxi van for the nth time. And once again I was unlucky to be seated in the most uncomfortable place, the middle seat and wedged between two other passengers to my left and another to my right. Where FX taxi drivers got the idea that they could squeeze any set of four people into that space still remains a mystery to me. But luckily this time, there was no wide-bodied passenger to share the spare with us.
To pass away idle time, I tried to take a nap and add a few more minutes to the short sleep I got the previous night. When I couldn't manage a wink, I read again some old text messages and answered some new ones. Then I looked at the trees felled by Typhoon "Milenyo" and the billboards it had thankfully removed from view to unveil the scenery. Every so often, I shifted my legs to relieve the tension and tried to stretch whatever parts
of my body the space allowed. After several minutes of trying to sleep, text messaging, sightseeing, stretching, looking at the time and whatever else I could do, I finally reached my destination.
I followed the lady to my right who was also getting off the taxi. I had not taken more than 20 steps when I heard somebody calling after me. The man was the last to get off the taxi van and he had my wallet. I thanked him profusely and then we were off again to our respective offices.
As I was going down one of Ayala Avenue's busy underpasses, I pondered over what had just happened. Any man who found himself in the same situation could have easily walked away with modest loot. I imagine that a typical "Makati yuppie" would have in his wallet anywhere between P500 and P5,000 in cash, an ATM card and a credit card. Given the lead-time, he could make at least one purchase and charge it to the credit card, and that is, assuming that the owner of the card was quick to report the loss instead of wasting time wondering if he had left his wallet at home or somewhere else.
After contemplating what could have been the finder's catch, I thought about what my predicament would have been had the gentleman not bothered to give me back my wallet. It's not that I haven't lost any wallet during my entire 28 years of existence. But while I have not been able to keep track of how many wallets I have lost, I can easily recall the number of cellular phones I have lost and at present, the count stands at 10.
However, the most expensive cell phone is not as indispensable as a wallet, I think. When one loses a phone, his biggest problem is not so much where to get the money to buy a replacement as getting again the phone numbers of your relatives, friends, associates and contacts. But when you drop your wallet, you lose all your identification cards -- office ID, driver's license, insurance cards, ATM and credit card – and the number of cards you have multiplies the time and money you will have to employ to get back everything. Aside from the unique problems and challenges each card poses, you could be forced to deal with some inconvenient surprises. Until now, for example, I am using a temporary paper driver's license issued by the Land Transportation Office, because to this day, they cannot find the plastic card that was supposed to have been available last April. You take a half-day off from work, travel under the scorching heat of the afternoon sun and then you get nothing for all your efforts.
Realizing that someone has saved me from going through all these mind-blowing ordeals gave me the idea of writing about the incident. This is my way of thanking him and to all the others who have acted in the same honest and helpful way. I know that what the kind gentleman did hardly compares with the act of someone who returns millions of pesos to the rightful owner, which is quickly picked up by the media. But I believe that small and simple acts of kindness and honesty should be hailed and made known to the public as well. Being righteous especially when nobody notices it is righteousness in its purest form, right?
Perhaps it is time we began to highlight stories that show people's real character and moral values. Even as our country gets to be constantly tagged as one of the world's most corrupt nations, we should hail as heroes those who, in their own simple ways, prove that the virtue of honesty is not dead.
Jesse Santos, 28, is a graduate of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, and works in a government corporation.
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